The School Holidays are a Great Time to Reconnect
The autumn school holidays are nearly here... so take a deep breath mum and dad, you’ve got this.
When you have school age kids, the school holidays can feel pretty daunting. You've just settled into the school routine, and suddenly that's out the window. If you're busy with work, and you have the money, then check out one of these great holiday programs, if not, the school holidays can be a great time for the whānau to rest and regather.
Whether you’re a mum, dad, grandparent or other caregiver, let’s spend some quality time with our children these holidays engaging in meaningful reconnection and play. A list of school holiday activities is good, but connecting with the family during activities is even better.
Here is a list of our 8 favourite activities that are ideal for reconnecting with our tamariki in the school holidays, whether you're at home or visiting our favourite children's spots in Auckland.
1. Visit the library Cost: free
Plan a few hours at your local Auckland library, where librarians are running daily free school holiday activities to help kids learn new skills, develop initiative and test their creativity. Activities range from mask making, ‘up-cycling’, and learning about gravity. The children’s sections can provide a cosy environment for kids to feel at home in over the winter break, with my kids particularly enjoying curling up on a bean bag with me to read a few books from the shelf.
Going an hour before activities start, will allow for some quality time with our kids where they can choose a few of their own books to take home for the rest of the holidays. If the weather is fine, why not take them for a picnic at a nearby park afterwards?
2. The Brick Room at the Museum
Cost: Museum entry free for Auckland residents, Classes $5 (under 3s free)
The Auckland War Memorial Museum is the perfect place to let our children take the lead and learn more about what your child is interested in. It may even surprise you how much they know about some topics. Whether it’s dinosaurs, volcanoes or insects, the museum is a great place to discover more… about your child.
Throughout the Autumn school holidays, the museum is running a range of events, including the brick room, which is a great opportunity to get creative with your little ones.
3. Motat’s Holiday Experience: Rad Robots
Cost: Family pass $45.00
Motat is a great full day experience for any curious child. With over 60 hands-on displays and exhibits, an impressive display of enormous aeroplanes, and a fabulous tram ride, Motat will keep the whole family busy for hours. Take the time to engage with your kids about the displays they are interested in, ask questions, and follow their lead when it is time to move to the next exhibit. It’s fascinating to see which exhibits capture their attention the most. In addition, Motat present's Rad Robots during the holiday period, where kids are encouraged to explore and discuss hi-tech concepts including automation and artificial intelligence, and how these ideas can impact our future.
4. Skim Stones,Collect Shells, and Hunt for Treasure
As simple as it sounds, these are three tried and tested activities which are perfect for connecting with kids on an autumn day outside. Grab a basket for collecting your treasures, and put on the coats and gumboots. You can use Parent Village’s directory search to find for the closest parks, lakes or beaches in your area, and you may be surprised to find some local spots you’ve never known about. By making an effort to explore and engage with your kids outside you are encouraging them to ditch the screens and want to connect with you again in this way.
5. Autumn Hot Chocolate and Toasted Marshmallows
Cost: Free (except for the food).
For those of you that have a home fire, now is the perfect time to make hot chocolates, and gather around together as the days grow colder. If the kids are allowed marshmallows, toasting some on the fire can be a favourite family past time. Alternatives to marshmallows include banana and melted chocolate, and slices of peach. If you do this in the evening, the kids will love using a torch and listening to a few spooky campfire stories.
6. Activities at the Auckland Botanic Gardens Cost: Mostly free
The Auckland Botanic Gardens are a great place to visit with children at all times of the year (they even provide kids with discovery activity sheets). The gardens will have your kids engaging with nature, and exploring their creative sides. A day at the Gardens is perfect for engaging with you kids later too - making an effort to engage with your kids about something they have just learned, can really help them to feel connected.
Keep an eye on the Botanic Gardens events page for fun activities and events.
7. Whoah Studios, Henderson
Cost: Many events are free with Park passes. Family pricing options available.
The Whoa Studios playground is like nothing you have seen before and the shows are a whole new level of spectacular. This is a place that both you and the children will thoroughly enjoy. With an onsite restaurant which flows out to an extensive play area, Whoah Studios is the perfect balance between a child’s fantasy land, and an upmarket dining experience! An incredible place to treat the family these holidays.
8. A New Take on Baking Cost: free (except for the food).
Baking with young kids can be challenging, unless you let them lead the way! The perfect way to get kids enjoying their time in the kitchen, is to let them feel comfortable enough to explore. This leads to proud children, and growing baking capabilities. For example, setting up a cake tin, and a range of ingredients, spoons and spatulas, on a picnic mat on the floor of the kitchen creates an inviting space, where the mess is reasonably contained, and the picnic mat can be thrown in the wash at the end. Let the kids pour, let them feel the texture of the mixture, as the different ingredients cause the cake to change from thick and dry to smooth and sticky. Don’t worry if the cake doesn’t come out perfectly, the kids will be proud of what they make if you are!